Trees Planting Project Started in 2013 to Honor Civil War Dead

by Duane Nichols on November 25, 2016

$65 million Project over 180 miles

The goal is to plant one tree for each soldier who died in the line of duty.

From an Article by Greg Toppo, USA Today, December 21, 2013 

LEESBURG, Va. — On a busy stretch of suburban highway an hour’s drive south of the Mason-Dixon Line, workers are digging holes in a grass median, then carefully planting thin, delicate trees: oak, maple, cedar and dogwood — 108 in all — before winter sets in.

The planting looks like a typical highway beautification, but it’s part of a quiet effort that seeks to answer a very big question: 150 years after the end of the Civil War, can trees heal the nation’s soul?

An estimated 620,000 soldiers died fighting from 1861 to 1865, far more than in any war Americans have fought since. Yet for all the intensity surrounding the war’s 150th anniversary, almost no one — including most historians — can say for sure exactly how many died, or who nearly half of the dead were. Many soldiers, especially those who fought for the South, never received a proper burial.

When completed, the $65 million project will be the largest man-made pathway of trees on the globe, stretching 180 miles north to south over three states.Along the historic highway that stretches from Thomas Jefferson’s home, near Charlottesville, Va., to the national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pa., a small group has spent the past two years literally laying the groundwork to plant a tree for every one of the dead.

Its scale brings home the war’s grim reality: So many men died in those four years that if workers simply planted along both sides of the route, each tree would stand just three feet from the next.

So organizers are asking communities along the route to devote small swaths of land to creating groves. They’ve already planted 248 trees at Bliss Orchard at Gettysburg, part of a larger effort by the National Park Service to restore the battlefield site to what it looked like in 1863.

Cate Magennis Wyatt, a former Virginia secretary of commerce who heads the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, a well-funded public-private effort that has already turned the route into a “scenic byway,” says the idea for trees was not a hard sell for communities along the route. They had been asked by state officials to come up with a way to commemorate the war’s 150th anniversary.

“They called me and said, ‘Cate, we don’t want another flagpole. We don’t need another monument. What can we do together that’s bigger than what any one of us could do individually?’ ”

Wyatt suggested planting an allée, or alley, of trees — she knew that Australians had created one after World War I — and soon people all along the route were asking how they could help.

“Tree people love this,” says Virginia arborist Peter Hart, who has championed the project.

At an arborists’ conference recently, Hart manned a table publicizing the effort and says it was “constantly crowded” with tree experts wanting to know more and many forking over the $100 it costs to donate a tree. As he explained the effort, he says, a few even teared up as they absorbed its magnitude.

“They’re excited about this,” says Hart, who laid out $200 to plant trees for two great-grandfathers who fought in the war and survived.

After 150 years, the Civil War remains unprecedented in the USA in its carnage. Historians estimate that one in three households in the South lost a family member and that overall about 2% of the USA population died in the line of duty. Today that would be the equivalent of more than 6 million dead, or 4,100 per day, every day, for four years.

Some estimates put the war’s death toll as high as 740,000, but poorly kept records, especially for Confederate soldiers, mean that historians likely will never know its full extent. Should historians confirm the higher count, Wyatt says, “We’re prepared to go there if we need to.”

Using GPS technology, the group is working with the National Park Service and other partners, including the online sites and, to create an interactive map that will allow anyone traveling the route to find a tree planted for an individual soldier. Wyatt foresees that travelers someday will be able to pinpoint individual trees using a smartphone, then use an app to call up each soldier’s information.

Within just a few years, she predicts, the stands of trees — red sunset maples, chestnut and willow oaks, red-twigged dogwoods, red cedars and eastern redbuds, among others — will soon be “impossible not to recognize.”

As workers finished digging holes along the highway one cold morning this week, Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd said the city plans to contribute at least 500 trees. The effort, she says, has become “part of the lexicon of planting” in Leesburg.

“It’s ongoing,” Umstattd says. “I expect it to last for a generation or more.”

Those looking to donate a tree can do so online at the the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s website.

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The Journey to 620,000 Trees in Honor of Civil War Participants

From an Article by Sandy Hausman, NPR – WVTF, Charlottesville, VA, November 21, 2016

While most of this state’s gardening gets done in the spring and summer, Virginia’s tree lovers have been busy this fall.  Sandy Hausman reports on an effort to plant 620,000 – one for each man who died in the Civil War.

Chris Gensic is a tree commissioner and coordinator of parks and trails in Charlottesville.  This month, he says, volunteers planted 64 Jefferson elms, white swamp oaks, tulip poplars and Kentucky Coffee trees between the city and Monticello.

“There’s this huge wide median, and we decided to put an alley of large trees in it, so 40 to 50 years from now you’ll have this beautiful cathedral of trees on the way to Monticello.”

They got help from members of the National Guard and from a four-state partnership called the The Journey through Hallowed Ground.  To mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Gensik says that group intends to plant 620,000 trees.

“And every tree will be tagged  to an individual’s story, where they came from, where they served.  They came and helped us plant our gateway.  When they come back to plant their redbuds and understory trees we will help them plant those trees and together we’ll have not only the Jefferson gateway, but the beginning of the Journey through Hallowed Ground.”

That journey begins at Monticello and stretches 180 miles north to Gettysburg, passing through nine presidential homes and sites, 18 national and state parks,  hundreds of Civil War battlefields and more than a thousand historic houses and towns.

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Tree Stewarts November 25, 2016 at 12:13 pm

New trees on Monticello Avenue rooted in community parternships

From Josh Mandell, Charlottesville Tomorrow, November 4, 2016

The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards will plant dozens of trees on a Monticello Avenue median this month, forming a new link between Charlottesville and the historic home of Thomas Jefferson.

To complete the Monticello Gateway planting project, the Tree Stewards will receive assistance from Virginia National Guard soldiers and volunteers from the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a nonprofit, four-state partnership dedicated to raising awareness of historic sites between Charlottesville and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

“It will be an artistic and natural contribution to the city,” said Dorothy Smith, the Tree Stewards’ representative on the city’s Tree Commission. “In a couple of decades, the trees will be a spectacular way of acknowledging that you are now in Charlottesville.”

The project required the coordination of local and state governments and contributions from businesses and nonprofits. “It’s a strain for everyone to express their own needs and rules, but everyone has bent over backwards to make this happen,” Smith said.

The Tree Stewards’ work on the Monticello Gateway was recognized by the International Society of Arboriculture last month with a Gold Leaf Award for outstanding landscaping beautification activities.

The inspiration for the Monticello Gateway came from the Tree Commission, which has recommended the planting of more trees along the city’s entrance corridors. “We thought that the trees would be a nice connection between Monticello and the city,” said Chris Gensic, a tree commissioner and the city’s parks and trails coordinator.

The Monticello Gateway median extends from Quarry Road to the Thomas Jefferson Parkway — well beyond the reach of the city’s landscaping services. Monticello groundskeepers will water the trees every three weeks, and the Tree Stewards will handle other maintenance tasks.

Albemarle County waived a $5,000 bond to give the Virginia Department of Transportation resources to remove the trees, should this be necessary in the future.

That enabled the Tree Stewards to plant 11 swamp white oaks on the median last year. A $9,800 grant from the Virginia Department of Forestry’s Trees for Clean Water program and a contribution from the Ballyshannon Fund helped pay for the 64 trees that will be planted this month.

Paul Josey, chairman of the Tree Commission and a landscape architect, made a site plan for the median that groups some of the trees into small “groves” for a more natural appearance. “It should be a great transformation of that stretch of Route 20,” Josey said.

After consulting experts at Monticello, Josey chose several tree species associated with Jefferson to be planted on the median. Eighteen Kentucky coffeetrees, a species introduced to Jefferson by Albemarle frontiersman George Rogers Clark, will be featured prominently on the Monticello Gateway. It also will include tulip poplars and Jefferson American elms.

Bremo Trees has donated 10 saplings for the project and will help volunteers remove soil from the trees’ roots to prepare them for planting. Windridge Landscaping and Hardscaping has drilled holes into the median for each new tree. “That median is hard and full of rocks,” Smith said. “Now we can really spend our time on planting, composting and mulching.”

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground plans to add more trees to the median next year after the Tree Stewards’ larger canopy trees take root. It will work with the Virginia National Guard to plant 20 redbud trees, each representing a specific Civil War soldier killed in battle. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground hopes to plant 620,000 of them throughout its four-state area for its Living Legacy project.

“We are glad to be a part of this partnership and to help support the project,” said Shuan Butcher, director of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway. “I give all the credit to Paul Josey and the Tree Stewards. They’ve done a fabulous job.”

“It’s a great way to tie in history and nature. Both are critically important,” Butcher said. “[Josey’s] plan is beautifully done. … Almost any time of year, the colors will be beautiful.”

The Tree Stewards are hosting work days to plant the Monticello Gateway trees Saturday.


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Monticello Park November 25, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Monticello park now home to 50 species of trees

Article by Chay Reigle …. November 3, 2016 

The Monticello City Park now contains 50 different species of trees following the completion of a three-year project to introduce new species common to Indiana to the local park.

The Monticello Parks and Recreation Department has been planting new species of trees in the park since spring 2013. The idea came from the book “Fifty Trees of Indiana” by T.E. Shaw, which lists the types of trees that can be commonly found in Indiana.

Members of the parks department planted two of each of the final three species needed—Virginia pine, jack pine and red pine—in the upper part of the city park on Thursday.

“We’re focusing on the number of species and species diversity,” said parks superintendent Mitch Billue. “What we’re trying to create is a diversified species list. Hopefully we’ll see some of these trees, some people will, a hundred years from now they’ll still be here.”


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Redwoods in Ireland November 25, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Ireland to Plant Largest Grove of Redwood Trees Outside of California

By Steve Williams,, November 20, 2016

An estate in Ireland has revealed plans to create a redwood grove that will be the largest of its kind outside California. The initiative serves as a testament both to Ireland’s heritage and its commitment to fighting global warming.

The initiative, Giants Grove, is spearheaded by the seventh Earl of Rosse, Brendan Parsons and the environmental organization Crann, which promotes the preservation of trees, hedgerows and woodlands throughout Ireland.

The Earl has designated land on the grounds of the Birr Castle Gardens in Offlay to house around 2,000 redwoods, making it the biggest forest outside of California.

What’s more, this would be a historic homecoming for redwoods. The trees were once abundant in Ireland but were largely wiped out following the last Ice Age.

Lord Rosse explained: ”Our grandchildren, their grandchildren, Birr, Ireland and the world will benefit from this magnificent forest grove. These will be the biggest trees in Ireland and the largest collection outside of California. By investing in this project with us, the sponsors will have the opportunity to make a personal impact on Ireland’s environment and world biodiversity conservation.”

As stated above, the project will be supported by the estate and other groups, but it aims for public funding. Individuals will be able to sponsor an area within the giant redwood plantation, ensuring the site and the redwoods themselves will last for future generations.

The notion isn’t just to return a piece of Ireland’s lost heritage, though. Giants Grove will attempt to help redwood forests and other ecosystems unique to Ireland survive.

The trees face significant pressures, including the effects of climate change. Rising temperatures and a resulting lack of coastal fog means that California’s plantation has measurably declined in health. Other stress factors like land clearing and human encroachment mean that tree health isn’t as robust as environmentalists would like it to be.

What’s more, recent studies suggest that trees like the giant redwoods are crucial for their ability to fight climate change itself. Thus, ensuring their survival helps to ensure ours.

This project will also work to maintain Ireland’s forest cover—and that’s got an environmental importance of its own. This is a trial in future-proofing, as Ireland is predicted to warm up significantly due to climate change. By planting redwoods now, the country could be taking steps to transition into that warmer climate with habitable forests already in the making.

It’s a smart idea—and one that conservation groups believe may be the key to preserving future biodiversity. So what’s next?

The aim of the project is to deploy the redwoods in two phases. Phase one is slated to begin this autumn, while the second phase will occur in the spring of 2017. Both phases will include planting the giant coastal redwoods to create an inner copse, which will then be surrounded by the more robust giant mountain redwoods. Some native trees will also be included, such as holly trees, to encourage biodiversity and to provide interest for forest visitors.

To be sure, this project alone cannot ensure the survival of the redwoods or keep Ireland’s biodiversity intact. However, the project has been greeted warmly by environmentalists who view this as an example in maintaining biodiversity for other nations. While climate change will mean we need to approach conservation differently, there are transition strategies that can enrich environments.

The Giants Grove project, then, is an exciting seed of an idea for long-term biodiversity conservation.


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WV Trees November 25, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Why West Virginians Should Plant Trees

From the Governor’s Desk: A weekly column by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, 2011

When you think of your responsibilities as a citizen, planting trees probably is not on the list, but it should be. Look around our beautiful state, this spring you’ll see an abundance of leaves beginning to bud. While we are blessed to have so many trees, we each can play a role in sustaining our beautiful forests for future generations. The easiest way to do that is to plant more trees.

The best species to plant are those native to West Virginia, such as the ones available at Clements State Tree Nursery. The nursery grows hardwood seedlings, including several species of oak, hickory and walnut, as well as sugar maple, West Virginia’s state tree. The staff at the nursery also raises evergreens like white, Scotch and red pine, Norway spruce and Douglas fir. Because these seedlings are grown in West Virginia, you can be assured that they are suitable for planting on your property.

According to the National Arbor Day Foundation, over the course of 50 years, a single tree can generate $31,250 worth of oxygen, provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycle $37,500 worth of water and control $31,500 worth of soil erosion. Multiply those numbers by thousands and you can see how planting trees makes both economic and environmental sense for West Virginia.

The Mountain State’s forests are composed mainly of hardwood species. This means that not only are the trees valuable when they are growing in the forest, but they also are economically valuable when harvested. Once they are harvested, hardwood species can regenerate, growing new trees from the roots and stumps left in the forest. So if this is the case, why plant trees?

Several good reasons come to mind. Trees are beautiful and enhance the scenery. They provide homes and food for wildlife. In fact, you can create your own wildlife viewing area to feed deer, birds, squirrels and other animals right in your own backyard. In addition, those trees can provide colorful fall foliage every autumn.

Someone once said “fences make good neighbors”. Trees make a great, natural, living barrier along your property. A line of trees will impede high winds and keep them from carrying away loose soil. At the same time, this line can provide shelter to your home and outbuildings from wind damage.
Of course, as we look forward to the summer months, trees provide much needed shade to humans, pets and wildlife, and help cut cooling costs. Trees are especially important in urban areas where excessive heat builds up from paved surfaces and glass-reflected sunlight.

There are also many celebratory reasons to plant trees. Plant a tree to commemorate a baby’s birth, an anniversary or any special occasion. I encourage you to give the gift that can’t be found in any store; plant a West Virginia-grown tree.

For a catalog of West Virginia-grown seedlings, visit:, 

or call Clements State Tree Nursery directly at 304.675.1820.


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CommuniTree January 3, 2017 at 12:22 pm

West Virginia Chesapeake Bay Program

West Virginia Project CommuniTree

The WV Project CommuniTree promotes tree planting and public education through volunteerism on a region scale.  The program also focuses on enhancing and promoting awareness of watershed and riparian area needs such as storm water management, water quality issues, buffer zone planting, and soil erosion. 

The project is entirely volunteer based and engages stakeholders in the process of making priority decisions within their respective communities and offers a strong educational message along with a physical planting component. 

The WV Project CommuniTree slogan is “Building Communities from the Roots Up”.  The first CommuniTree Chapter, Potomac Valley Project CommuniTree, was formed in 2008 among the counties of Hampshire, Hardy and Grant. In 2009 the Eastern Panhandle Chapter was formed among the counties of Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson. 

Project CommuniTree assists communities and organizations on a regional level with funding and grant opportunities, technical assistance, and outreach for planting projects and educational workshops. 

Mission Statement: WV Project CommuniTree promotes urban tree planting and environmental education through volunteerism on a regional scale.

>> Helping communities design, implement and maintain tree planting projects that enhance quality of life.
>> Educating stakeholders on proper tree selection and care.
Foster an increased awareness of local water quality issues.
>> Connecting communities and volunteers with resources to make positive changes in their urban landscape.
>> Promoting long-term tree care programs within participating communities.
>> Engaging citizens in the process of making priority decisions within their respective communities.


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Quaking Aspen December 15, 2019 at 12:48 am

Pando (Latin for “I spread out”), also known as the trembling giant, is a clonal colony of an individual male quaking aspen(Populus tremuloides) determined to be a single living organism by identical genetic markers and assumed to have one massive underground root system.

The plant is located in the Fremont River Ranger District of the Fishlake National Forest at the western edge of the Colorado Plateau in south-central Utah, United States, around 1 mile (1.6 km) southwest of Fish Lake. Pando occupies 43 hectares (106 acres) and is estimated to weigh collectively 6,000,000 kilograms (6,600 short tons), making it the heaviest known organism,. The root system of Pando, at an estimated 80,000 years old, is among the oldest known living organisms.

Pando is currently thought to be dying. Though the exact reasons are not known, it is thought to be a combination of factors including drought, grazing, human development, and fire suppression. The Western Aspen Alliance, a research group at Utah State University’s S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, has been studying the tree in an effort to save it, and the United States Forest Service is currently experimenting with several 5-acre (2 ha) sections of it in an effort to find a means to save it.

A study published in October 2018 concludes that Pando has not been growing for the past 30–40 years. Human interference was named as the primary cause, with the study specifically citing people allowing cattle and deer populations to thrive, their grazing resulting in fewer saplings and dying individual trees.

NOTE: Male trees produce blossoms and pollen while female trees produce ‘fruit’ with seeds.


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